Westfield woman runs a unique home-based business • Current Editions
Like many people across the United States, Amber Blakley lost her job during the COVID-19 pandemic. But instead of sulking, the Westfield resident took it as an opportunity.
Blakley, 35, took the opportunity to start a gift-wrapping business. The unique business was an immediate success and now wraps gifts all year round.
“I actually first learned gift-wrapping techniques and caught the gift-wrapping bug during my time in the Hamilton County 4-H program,” Blakley said. who participated in 4-H for 10 years. “I did gift wrapping projects for nine of those 10 years. That’s where I learned the basics of everything.
Blakley, who worked for a nonprofit before losing her job, wanted to apply the skills she already had and be home with her daughter.
“So that’s when I started offering custom gift wrapping services, just in time for the 2020 holiday,” Blakley said. “I got a fair amount of business that year just to get started and try it out. Since then, I’ve been offering it year-round for all kinds of occasions.
Blakley wraps thank you gifts for teachers and birthdays and even offers services for corporate orders.
“One of the biggest surprises is that I was asked to pack up many empty boxes for people to use as decor for parties or birthdays or even primary school classrooms,” Blakley said.
Blakley also packs other items for teachers’ classrooms, including a 3-foot-tall gift box to look like a pineapple. Nina Lechner, a third-grade teacher at Sheridan Elementary School, wanted a flamingo and pineapple theme for her classroom.
“She wanted a giant pineapple, so I took a huge box and wrapped it to look like a pineapple,” Blakely said.
Lechner appreciated the box.
“It makes a statement in our class,” Lechner said. “It brings joy to the children and the staff. It’s become a topic of conversation, that’s for sure.
Blakley operates her business from her home, but she also wraps gifts at the Indiana Artisan store at the Indiana Design Center in Carmel. She wraps gifts for customers who purchase items from the store.
Although Christmas is the busiest time of the year in Blakely, Valentine’s Day comes close behind.
“I would also be happy to develop more activities throughout the year,” Blakley said. “There are tons of occasions throughout the year and not just for the holidays, people need wrapped gifts.”
Blakley is also a seamstress and sometimes uses a sewing machine to sew pouches for certain gifts, such as gift cards or money.
“One thing I’d love to give for Westfield student graduation gifts this year is to sew a shamrock-shaped gift card,” she said. “Part of what I love about it is that if someone has a certain idea in mind, I love the challenge of receiving that idea and bringing it to life.”
For Valentine’s Day, Blakley said wine bottles are popular gifts, which wrap in a “fun” way.
“A lot of people say (gifts) are too good to open, but I think of them as two gifts in one – the gift inside but also the experience of opening the gift,” Blakley said. “It can create a really special moment for the gift recipient. No, it’s not too pretty to open. It’s an extra gift for you, and the giver saw you as special and wanted to take that extra step for you because you’re special to them.
Blakley plans to offer gift wrapping workshops this year for people to learn gift wrapping techniques.
Blakley’s husband, Kyle, is an engineer. They have two daughters, Annabelle and Madeline.
Blakley said she doesn’t wrap her own presents. Although Kyle doesn’t use his tips, he’s “very good” at packing.
Gift Wrapping Tips
Amber Blakley has made a career out of her gift wrapping skills. She uses double-sided tape, and for people who wrap their own gifts, she advises never leaving a raw edge of paper and always folding the paper under a quarter inch.
To make gifts more fun, Blakley suggests adding decoration with ribbon or string.
“If they go for a certain theme, then I definitely try to bring it to life,” Blakley said. “For example, last year I wrapped several gifts for a spy and detective themed birthday party. I added a magnifying glass to one of the packages, and another had fingerprints on it.
Blakley also suggests using a box when possible, as boxes are easier to pack.
“I almost never use gift bags,” she said. “It takes a certain circumstance to do that. There is no shame in gift bags. They are easy to use and transport. But for me, I like to find a way to pack it without using a bag.